What Is Anxiety?

Anxiety is an emotion that is based in fear. As humans we all have anxiety. Anxiety is generated from the threat detection center of our brain. When we were cavemen it was highly useful for us to be on alert and anticipate potential threats to survive. Anxiety is what allows us to respond to a potential tiger attack by triggering the physiological fight, flight, or freeze response within us. Today anxiety is still very useful in protecting us at times. Although useful when activated our bodies can’t tell the difference between a potential tiger attacking us versus a potential awkward social interaction. Anxiety is the emotional response to the perception of future threat or danger.

Anxiety Symptoms

Although we all experience anxiety there are differences with each individual in the intensity and frequency of their experience. One important difference between healthy anxiety versus an anxiety disorder is how intensely does it negatively impact your life. Suffering with anxiety can feel exhausting, defeating, lonely, and hopeless. Some common symptoms of anxiety include:

  • Uncontrollable worrying
  • Avoidance due to a fear of embarrassment, humiliation, or criticism.
  • Difficulty in settling down or getting comfortable
  • Being on edge or irritable
  • Difficulty falling asleep
  • Physical symptoms such as heart racing, shaking, twitching, difficulty breathing, sweating, nausea and others.
  • Feeling mentally and physically exhausted
  • Waking up in the middle of the night
  • Having a hard time staying focused
  • Clenching your teeth or fists
  • Needing excessive reassurance
  • Holding “stress” in your shoulders or other body areas
  • Often feeling awkward
  • Obsessive and compulsive thoughts and behaviors

Types of Anxiety Disorders

Generalized Anxiety Disorder

One hallmark of this diagnosis is excessive, chronic worry about everyday life.

Social Anxiety

This diagnosis is characterized by fear of social situations driven by irrational thoughts regarding humiliation.  

Panic Disorder

Panic disorders are associated with panic attacks which are sudden, intense feelings of panic associated with physical symptoms such as chest pain, heart racing, shakings, sweating, difficulty breathing, feeling disassociated, and others.

Specific Phobias

This is where there is a specific intense irrational fear towards an event, person, place, or thing.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

This disorder is characterized by both obsessions and compulsions. Obsessions are intrusive thoughts, images, urges that cause distress. Compulsions are followed by obsessions which are behaviors that a person feels the need to perform to reduce the distress of the obsession

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

This is a disorder that can develop after a person has experienced a traumatic event in their life. It is characterized by long lasting effects from the trauma which can include avoidance, flashbacks, mood difficulties, and hypervigilance. 

Who Gets Anxiety

Over 40 million U.S. adults suffer from anxiety each year. That is roughly 19% of the U.S. population. Anxiety is the most common psychological diagnosis and is very treatable.  Although it is very treatable only 36% of people suffering from anxiety get treatment. 

What Causes Anxiety

It is thought that there are two main factors that play a role in the potential to develop an anxiety disorder.

Genetics: Anxiety disorders have a genetic component to them. Oftentimes anxiety or a similar mental health diagnosis will run in families. 

Environment: Your environment can influence your emotional state. If you experienced significant negative events in life this could influence the intensity and frequency of emotions.

Treatments for Anxiety

Anxiety Medications: There are different classes of medication used to treat anxiety. The most popular include selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI’s) and benzodiazepines. If you’re interested in taking medication for anxiety it is strongly recommended that you see a psychiatrist to prescribe this medication. They will be best equipped to know what the best medication for your symptoms will be with the least side effects. 

Anxiety Therapy: Therapy is a very effective treatment for Anxiety. Therapy will help you gain insights into your anxiety, cognitive skills to change the way you think, and behavioral skills to help reduce the symptoms of anxiety. Therapy is a well established, effective, and long lasting treatment for anxiety. 

Get Help Now

Anxiety can be a debilitating emotion. It can interfere with all aspects of your life. Anxiety does not have to cause unnecessary suffering in your life. Anxiety is the most common psychological diagnosis and is very treatable. Valor Counseling will help you learn how to manage your anxiety so you can live a more fulfilling life. It is very common to feel anxious when reaching out for help. Click here to learn more about the process of starting therapy to help ease your worries. Think of where your anxiety will be in a week, a month, and a year from now if you call (630) 410-1818 or contact us today.

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